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Old 04-14-2006, 12:57 PM   #26
Erick Mead
 
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
David Knowlton wrote:
You misunderstood me. So let me ask again - Can aikido be fully about the warrior arts AND fully about acheiving global concern and compassion?
Thucyides observed a seemingly unremitting truth of history, both social and personal: "The strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must."

I think O-Sensei set out to break that paradigm. I sense from what you have said -- and your candor is remarkably brave -- you consciously or intuitively sensed this in taking up aikido. His art is both loving and fierce. It could not be what it is without both. It could not protect anyone without that recourse to such raw and dangerous energy. It is the refinement in its use that makes it art.

As you will no doubt testify -- love is both inherent and learned. Learning can overcome nature, and vice versa. Native love can be overcome in the most intimate of relationships. Those who are most close can be most cruel -- or most kind. Nature can be cruel also, but man-made cruelty has far outstripped nature's worst reservoirs of indifference in the last century. Training in love is crucial, especially in our time, where the artificial so predominates over the natural.

We have many places in our modern world where we train the mind and spirit in attitudes of love, Churches, Temples, Zendos, ashrams, etc. We have perhaps far too many ways in which we train the mind and body in lust -- for all sorts of things. We are corporeal, and as the mind or spirit can betray the body, the body can betray them also.

We cannot neglect the mind and spirit. But, where else in the modern world does one also regularly train the body in fierce and loving protection ?? By doing this we allow the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of our nature to reinforce one another in their respective weakness and at the points of typical failure. This may be dry and abstract in the face of your plain emotion, but underlying this, I am both deep moved by what you have said, and reinforced in the observations that I am making. Only a fierce power within a person could have held back the hand from striking in entirely righteous anger.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 04-14-2006, 01:48 PM   #27
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Only a fierce power within a person could have held back the hand from striking in entirely righteous anger.
Almost. I can't help but think that a humbler warrior might have protected others And saved his nut. ha!

Thanks for allowing my candor. Listen when children say something is wrong.

dave
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Old 04-15-2006, 03:34 PM   #28
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

at the risk of being a total nerd, i'm going to return to the star wars allagory from the start of this thread.

i think the difference between the jedi and the sith in this modern myth can provide a really interesting example of the use of what erick as called "fierce power" (or aggression, or what kivin called, in appropriate nerdiness, "dark side") and what we perhaps call "pacifying power".

a while back some friends and i were discussing star wars in this way, and it struck us that (at the risk of being really dorky), as the star wars novels state (and ep one implies), the jedi are guardians of "balance" in the force. if we think of this in terms of in/yo, and the eastern notions of good vs evil as being about balance vs. imbalance (see the myths in which "demons" are created thru extreme imbalance in living things / systems), i think aikido comes more deeply into view (one could understand in/yo as representing, amoung everything else, the will toward balance / the will toward imbalance). that is: balancing our aggression / passion with calm-centerdness / flexibility (i think "flexibility" is a [perhaps better] way of understanding and translating the eastern terms usually rendered as dispassion / indifference / etc.). the jedi do this. its not like they don't use aggression and violence. they do. very efficiantly and effectively. or as my fellow aikidoka james said "they are, really, killing machines". which is true if you watch the ways in which are so ungodly skilled in fighting. but they balance that with what yoda bascially calls (in empire) "passivity" ("you will know when you are at peace, passive"). this balance is love. is peace. i mean: lets not forget that both of these terms can be understood as synonyms for balance. and so, the jedi way, as expressed in the films / books / comics, can be understood as one long commentary and/or exposition on what a warrior can / should be in a modern (or futuristic) context. heck, we even get some insight into their training methodogies, ideals, etc. (which, i don't don't know about you all, but to me seem an awful lot like what is essentially done in aikido. particularly in those dojos that include meditation and ki training in their cirriculum. [anyone know if there is any truth in the rumor that lucas has yudansha ranking via ki society?])

converse to this, we have the sith. on a fighting level, they aren't that much different from jedi. see the obi-wan / maul fight at the end of ep one. or the mace windu / palpatine and obi-wan / anakin fights in ep three. that is: their martial techniques are nearly identical. but the sith operate from a place of intense imbalance: only aggression / passion, and what aggression / passion are without the balancing effects of calm-centerdness / flexibility. they become ego-centered, obsessive, power mad, etc.

so, what i'm getting at is this: in these two archtypes (jedi and sith) we can see the two general approaches to martial arts that erick seems to be wrestling with. to me it seems like aikido, in its best form, is much like how i described the jedi: real, incredible even, martial effectiveness ( / aggressiveness / passion) balanced with training and will to be calm-centered / flexible. being able to balance these ("aiki"?), i suppose, brings about love / peace and the latent power therein.
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Old 04-16-2006, 07:14 AM   #29
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Good analogy Jeff. I would say though that aikido encompass both, the mid point being harmony.

Conceptually you are correct, Star Wars is an allegory and is very well done on the classic battle between good and evil.

In you cannot really say one thing is all bad and all evil. We can conceptualize it, but the minute we do we fall into the trap of our own ego!

So while it is splitting hairs, i wouldn't say aikido represents the jedi. It really does not represent anything at all. simply a methodology for understanding the concepts and to help us figure out how to reconcile the balance!

While this makes for really good conversation and helps us to better understand things, I am always very cautious about putting things in neat little boxes of "good" "bad", "effective/ineffective".

Good conversation!
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Old 04-16-2006, 07:23 AM   #30
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Old 04-16-2006, 09:04 PM   #31
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Jeff Miller wrote:
i think aikido comes more deeply into view [as] balancing our aggression / passion with calm-centerdness / flexibility --- "passivity" ("you will know when you are at peace, passive"). this balance is love. is peace.
[Versus]
operate from a place of intense imbalance: only aggression / passion, and what aggression / passion are without the balancing effects of calm-centerdness / flexibility. they become ego-centered, obsessive, power mad, etc.
...
the two general approaches to martial arts that erick seems to be wrestling with.
...
to me it seems like aikido, in its best form, is much like how i described the jedi: real, incredible even, martial effectiveness ( / aggressiveness / passion) balanced with training and will to be calm-centered / flexible. being able to balance these ("aiki"?), i suppose, brings about love / peace and the latent power therein.
Actually, if one recalls the Star Wars canon, the Jedi as well as the Sith were "unbalanced." The prophetic role hoped for Anakin was to "restore the balance in the Force," a role actually brought about not by him, but by his son, Luke. I hardly see aikido in romantic substitution of Jedi arts, despite the useful types that the familiarity of these images represent for discussion.
Luke's apotheosis in the scene of self-sacrifice encompasses that moment of ordained balance -- "moment" being understood in terms of both time and leverage. But it is a different kind of balance, than what we commonly think of, a thought which may have substantial bearing on our study of aikido.
Precarious balance exists where remote and peripheral wieghts are delcicately offset. Enduring balance exists where the center is predominantly weighted relative to the periphery. Luke's "moment" is of this latter type simultaneously unleashed, spiral in the sense of expanding energy (watch the scene again, and yet poised; centripetal, not centrifugal.
Aikido fits this paradigm. Center-seeking, offering nothing, but holding nothing back that is asked by an attacker. Vader's taunt regarding turning Leia to evil was intended both in its content and in its provocation of Luke to attack. Luke obliged. O-Sensei said, no doubt on various occasions as it is recorded more than once. "When an opponent comes forward, move in, greet him; if he wants to pull back, send him on his way." "When the enemy comes welcome him, when he goes send him on his way."
What Vader wanted was battle, on his terms. What changed was how Luke committed to what Vader wanted, not on Luke's own terms, but without any terms whatsoever except his love, without reservation or any thought for himself, concerned only with saving Leia and Vader.
Applying this in physical terms to our aikido, techniques should feel weighted at the center, as a refirgerator feels when poised to pivoton on one corner, not weighted to the periphery, as though pushing on a turnstile, or to open a heavy door.
In metaphysical terms, our intent must lie within the whole, not just our part, of the technique. Our spirit must live at the point of the offered conflict, not in our predicated desire as to its outcome. Avoiding conflict is not accepting, it is refusing the welcome of the attacker. Holding on -- to "make" the throw, the pin or other technique intended, is likewise refusing to follow the attacker's desire to depart. This should not diminish the appreciation of the wry wink of the eye implied in O-Sensei's statement -- maybe he leaves by the window instead of the door. But neither should the humor diminish the significance of that attitude in our practice and in our thinking about it.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 04-16-2006, 09:35 PM   #32
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

I was called away in editng my post so I offer this last:

In metaphysical terms, our intent, our ego, is too large to occupy the vanishingly small, infinitesimal space that lies at the true Center. We can't do away with ego (unless you are a sage or a saint; I KNOW I am neither.) To weight the center therefore, our intent, our ego must expand to occupy the whole, not just our part, of the technique. Then all of the dynamic, not merely our part of it, is poised in equilibrium -- weighted at the center by our intent to encompass the whole, not merely to dominate one part over the other. Then, no effort required to pivot the refrigerator. Spirit must live at the point of the offered conflict, not in our predicated desire as to its outcome.

Cordailly,
Erick Mead
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Old 04-17-2006, 01:46 PM   #33
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Actually, if one recalls the Star Wars canon, the Jedi as well as the Sith were "unbalanced." The prophetic role hoped for Anakin was to "restore the balance in the Force," a role actually brought about not by him, but by his son, Luke.
okay, just on the nerd level... i guess i never read it like this. well... i guess i see it like this: the jedi, tho guardians of the balance, had become unbalanced by their hidebound-ed-ness by the rise of the empire era. still, tho, their training and ideals were modeled on notions of being balanced in the ways i described. balancing aggression with passivity, etc. but their own subconscious fears of the darkside (particularly with the growing, unbalanced toward "dark"-ed-ness of the force) had led them into overdoing it.

which is why (more overtly in the revenge of the sith book than movie) the surviving jedi make a move toward the qui-gon jinn version of being a jedi (which is actually more balanced, and is what obi-wan and yoda pass on to luke). hence, in the post-original series canon luke gets married, has a kid, etc. all while being the most powerful jedi in history.

and i would argue that it is actually this "risking the dark side", by being in love, etc. that makes luke so "light side"... that is: he is so "good" by virtue of being so balanced.

to me this is a great analogy of aikido. why its not a contradiction to train in a potentially incredibly violent, etc. art in pursuit of peace. peace requires this confrontation and understanding of aggression, this "risking the dark side", methinks.

and again on the dork level: in a sense anakin does bring balance to the force. he is the one who ultimately (or, i suppose, initially... considering the dark empire comics) rids the universe of palpatine, thus "cleansing" the force of its unbalanced "dark" taint, and restoring balance.

i never read lukes actions versus vader in the way you do. i honestly don't think luke gains control until he cuts off vader's hand, and then looks at his own. i think it is at that moment that luke does what you say. but not until then. i think his reaction to vader's taunting represents a failure. i think he does react out of anger and fear, due to his love. which is the lesson of anakin from the new movies: "love" can be distorted into obsession, or be taken advantage of, if not the result of a balance between passion and flexibility. (which raises the question, which i think the new movies actually do brilliantly [particularly with the events at the end of ep three]: is it really "love" if it is not balanced?)

again, i think this is a good analogy for aikido. for the reasons i noted above. esp when you compare lukes reaction to obi-wan's (in ep one). luke becomes incredibly brutal and out of control versus vader: look at the intensity of his attack on vader just before he lops off his hand...after vader is already down. obi-wan on the other hand, is upset by the death of qui-gon, but never abandons his control and his training... that is: he stays centered. you can see it in the way he fights maul. obi-wan, i think, provides a better example of "when an opponent comes forward, move in, greet him; if he wants to pull back, send him on his way." obi-wan stays centered and moves in. he fights and destroys maul of necessity and out of love, in the true balanced sense. luke does not send vader "on his way" when he pulls back (falls down and is defeated). obi-wan uses his aggression in a balanced, i dare say "aiki" way... while luke looses his control, becomes uncentered. he is concerned only with saving laia, and forgets (abeit, only momentarily, but nearly momentarily enough) about trying to save vader.

otherwise, i believe i agree with what you've said. in fact, i think its incredily insightful. but i think its important to draw out the implications of luke's battle with vader in this way, and in particular in comparison to a very similar battle of obi-wan's, as i've noted. when the inevitable nerdy question of "which jedi would you be" comes up, i always say obi-wan. he's not the strongest, the best fighter, the most powerful... but he is, i think, ultimately, the most serious. most joyful. most centered. because i'm a giant nerd. oh yes.

kevin: i agree, in a sense, with how you put it. but i do think its important to try to have some understanding of "good" and "evil". heck, osensei himself would put things in these terms. but i think we have to abandon the "absolutes" we've been given in mainsteam western philosophy / religion / culture, in favor of understanding these catagories in a more fluid sense. thus, i think the eastern notion of couching "good" and "evil" in terms of balance and imbalance are particularly useful. that is: they give us a sense of what these terms signify in a fluid way, without resorting to absolutes. thus, i tried to draw out the implications of star wars mythology for aikido via the insistance in star wars of jedi as both "good" and "guardians of balance" (see the "new jedi order" novels for really good, intense discussions of this star wars terms).

thanks everyone for the great (both aiki-dorky, star wars-dorky) conversation!

jeff.
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Old 04-17-2006, 02:36 PM   #34
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Jeff said
Quote:
thanks everyone for the great (both aiki-dorky, star wars-dorky) conversation!
I think it's only dorky if we argue 'what if spiderman attacked darth vader in his sleep'.

I like the analogy, of star wars; Joseph Campbell said G. Lucas was his best student. I won't set anything in stone, and I'm not there yet. I do know that pride has kept me in pain long after my physical injuries have healed. I know that it was foolish to expect the world to think better of me because of what I had faced and overcome; and to think that maidens would strew rose petals at my feet, because the chosen one had arrived.

I acted within a situation, and the situation AND OTHERS IN IT were more important than I, and really driving the range of choices I had. The mother that leaves an abusive relationship not knowing if she can feed her kids is certainly braver than I, and most likely humbler.

If i can get a grip on this humility thing maybe i'll turn out alright. (better hurry, i'm not getting any younger)

dave
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Old 04-18-2006, 12:21 AM   #35
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Joseph Campbell is one of my favorite scholars. Highly reccommend reading any of his work if your are interested in these types of subjects.

Jeff, again, good comments. A thought comes to mind.. is there really any such thing as "good" and "evil". they are certainly concepts...but what is good for one person, might not be good for the other and vice versus. I think it depends on your perspective.

We like to use these terms because it makes our lives so much easier. We also use these words to de-humanize those that we fear or want to label our enemies.

It is all so very complicated. How does it relate to self defense?

When we defend ourselves, we justify our actions typically on the fact that we want to avoid harm in someway. It may be physical, mental, or spiritual harm.

It may be reality, it may be happening right that minute...or it may be percieved harm. Sometimes it is really hard to tell.

I like to look at the terrorist attacks on 9-11. The actual attacks themselves would be considered by many who share U.S values as being evil, harmful, and any action taken to mitigate that harm is certainly justified.

How does the otherside see it?

What about future actions we take? why do we do them. Pre-emptive actions?

Please don't construe my questions as a particular position on these issues. I believe it to be a very complex issue.

My point is, Aikido as an allegory or model for training, helps us to become more skillful at understanding behavior, ourselves and others. It can expand our ability to discern conflict and hopefully, help us make more informed decisions about defense, attacks, pre-emptive behaviors etc.


Just my thoughts for the morning!
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Old 04-18-2006, 05:01 AM   #36
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

One of the things that, for me at least, marks Aikido out as being different from other martial arts is its empasis on resolving, or perhaps stopping, the conflict rather than defeating the opponent.
Other martial arts I have studied placed empasis on getting as equally wound up as my attacker and rely on my training to simply out fight and thus defeat him, essentially I beat him at his own game.
My Aikido training has been the complete opposite almost. I can allow my attacker to vent his frustration by avoiding his attacks if I choose, there is no need for me to act against him. Eventually he is going to stop being aggressive and thus harmony will be restored.This I suppose is the light side.
If things get too hot I can use the physical side to bring him under control and again harmony will be restored, either because I demonstrate that I have far more control of the darkside than he does (hopefully) and chooses to cease his aggression or because I physically stop him from being aggressive without having to be (unreasonably) destructive. In this way it is the conflict that is stopped (although maybe not resolved) and not the person.
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Old 04-18-2006, 09:00 AM   #37
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
is there really any such thing as "good" and "evil". they are certainly concepts...but what is good for one person, might not be good for the other and vice versus. I think it depends on your perspective.
No -- it doesn't. You are describing the "ego-centered" version of utilitarian ethics, and it is wrong (or at least woefully limited in application.) What is bad for my child does not depend on his or her subjective appreciation of it. My life is a tremendous good, but not the highest good. The lives of my children are more important.
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
I like to look at the terrorist attacks on 9-11. ...
How does the otherside see it?
How did the Aztec priests feel about the last re-dedication of their temple in Tenochtitlan, in 1457 versus the contrary ethical postulates of the twenty plus thousand who had their hearts cut from their living chests for that joyous celebration? I really don't much care how the priests felt about it. Their ethical perspective is simply not admissible in reasoned debate. Puts the "evil" conquistadores in a different light, though.

So, likewise with four planeloads of innocent "burnt offerings" immolated to some perverse, delusional notion of a personal warrant from God. In one day a band of deranged lunatics prompted by a bigger lunatic did more to demean and debase a system of profound theology and ethical thought than two hundred years of foreign colonial rule could manage. 'Nuff said.
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
I believe it to be a very complex issue.
And -- again -- no it isn't. Killing for killing's sake is always wrong, at every time and in every place.
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
... Aikido as an allegory .. understanding behavior, ... discern conflict ... make more informed decisions about defense, attacks, pre-emptive behaviors etc. ...
Aikido is not an allegory, nor is it an aid to conscious decision making, it is training in ethical action, which requires an intuitive grasp of the whole of a conflict, but not acquiescence to the subjective justness of the other side of it. If my enemy subjectively decides that his right requires that I die or be injured, he has not grasped the whole of the situation, objectively. I too am a subject worthy of inclusion in the dynamic of action. If he does not have the grace to accommodate me on his own initiative, I will act as host on his behalf, and accommodate me for him. Only my action, not my thoughts or misgivings, will instruct him otherwise.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 04-18-2006, 09:02 AM   #38
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

good thoughts....

Reminds me of the Zen Koan "Stop Harm!"

Sometimes it is not possible to resolve conflict in a harmonous way at the moment it occurs. We must take actions to prevent what we percieve to be a greater harm and in doing so inflict harm ourselves. This is not creating harmony in my view, but stopping harm with harm.

It may prevent things from swinging too far one way, but ultimately we pay some price maybe emotionally or physically in the process.

It may take days, months, or years to restore or heal.

It is nice to think what we practice can do all that we wish. that is, resolve harm with harmony, but in reality...it probably is not the case! It is an wonderful idea to work toward. If we don't work towards it, how are we ever going to get there?
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Old 04-18-2006, 10:01 AM   #39
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
No -- it doesn't. You are describing the "ego-centered" version of utilitarian ethics, and it is wrong (or at least woefully limited in application.) What is bad for my child does not depend on his or her subjective appreciation of it. My life is a tremendous good, but not the highest good. The lives of my children are more important.
That is interesting, Erick.
You are claiming, that Kevin uses an ego-centered version of ethics - and then argue totally ego-centered about "my children". What about other people's children's right to live, to eat, to have a joyful life?

Well coming back to aikido. It is prominently about being attacked and respond adequately. next step is to foresee an action action and act pre-emptive, but agequately. The best way to foresee a person's action is to understand his(her) motivation and assumed legitimation to do harm against you. It doesn't matter, if you agree to it or if you rectify it, but you should understand it. To judge, what action is adequate, however, it depends on the judgements about his motivation. If he is just humgry, you can feed him before he is getting aggressive, if he just thinks he has some right to kill you, you better stop him, unless you have a chance to talk to him and convince him, and unless you can just get away.

This is a very simplified example. In case of 9-11 you always have to think about, how your actions affect the possibility of similar actions. And it is far away from easily telling, which respond is right and which is wrong. I cannot tell, I can only ask myself, if Western gouvernments, including the U.S. and Germeny, did enough before 9-11 to avoid such an aggressive mind in major parts of 3rd world peoples, if it is rectified by some 4500 killed innocent civilians to kill about twice or three times as much, mostly innocent civilians in the following war against terror, if there were better alternatives.

That is now another thread, so coming back, I think aikido teaches us to think about the other side, how they see it, why do they see it this way. If not, you are react always almost too late, and once it might be too late. Then your aikido fails.

Best to all



Dirk
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Old 04-18-2006, 10:36 AM   #40
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
good thoughts....
We must take actions to prevent what we percieve to be a greater harm and in doing so inflict harm ourselves. This is not creating harmony in my view, but stopping harm with harm.
This is the assumption that O-Sensei, in my view, undertook to correct.
Most techniques re-orient force without diminishing or contesting it, by using:
1) the principle of "juuji" 十字 -- the cross-shape (number ten in kanji) [a wonderful image for the Christian among us]
and
2) the extending spiral.

Shomenuchi Ikkyo, as a first example of many, does not oppose this attacking (positive) force with contending force. It gains musubi by touching the side of the attack (orthogonal axis) ( 十字-juuji), ideally with back of the hand flat against the back of the hand, then entering uke's center, turning to ride and continue uke's cut, but now out, off the line, and also continuing and adding to the impetus of the cut (extending spiral) once the turn brings the the angle of the two arms to less than ninety degrees. This making the resulting descending portion of cut about six-inches further out, and six inches off the line from what uke intended, and nage basically using uke's arm as his sword to finish the giri completion of the cut in uke's place. If nage sticks the wrist or forearm in the path of the shomenuchi strike, he is doing it wrong, stopping the cut and causing bruises.

It takes exceedingly little perpendicular force to shift the trajectory of a moving object from its intended target. It takes little effort to add enough to the impetus of an attack from behind to take it past its effective range (or bring you inside of that range).

What takes time and practice is convincing your body and instinctive perceptual sytem that you do not need to "hedge" your technique by also blocking or stopping the attack or part of the attack in order to be safe from it. Thus, no harm is necessary to "Stop harm."

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 04-18-2006, 10:54 AM   #41
Erick Mead
 
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Dirk Hanss wrote:
That is interesting, Erick.
You are claiming, that Kevin uses an ego-centered version of ethics - and then argue totally ego-centered about "my children". What about other people's children's right to live, to eat, to have a joyful life?
Since I negate the value of my own life in favor of them, I decline to agree that this is an"ego-centric" scale of value. The example was to place the two perspectives in counterpoise to illustrate the reciprocity of moral error involved in any ego-centered subjectivity.
Quote:
Dirk Hanss wrote:
[Snip -- 9/11 discussion] ... so coming back, I think aikido teaches us to think about the other side, how they see it, why do they see it this way. If not, you are react always almost too late, and once it might be too late. Then your aikido fails.
Timing. O-Sensei said that Aikido is not about timing. Aikido works early, and Aikido works late. George Ledyard Sensei does a far better job of discussing this issue (勝早 "Katsu hayabi" "swift victory") than I could: please see his column here: http://www.aikiweb.com/columns/gledyard/2006_01.html

There are also a number of progressions of stepwise practice exercises with the same basic attack/technique that illustrate this in a very concrete way. Shomenuchi Ikkyo done way early looks an awful lot like gokyo; ikkyo done way late looks a lot like Iriminage ura-waza, or koyunage.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 04-18-2006, 11:23 AM   #42
Erick Mead
 
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Dirk Hanss wrote:
It is prominently about being attacked and respond adequately. next step is to foresee an action action and act pre-emptive, but agequately. The best way to foresee a person's action is to understand his(her) motivation and assumed legitimation to do harm against you.
This point requires expansion. And for this reason. We are caught up in a virtual simulation, predictive algorithm paradigm. This, too, is not aikido.
Aikido does not accept input, model behavior, input correction and result = desired outcome. This is transactional analysis. This would involve two conscious parties-- two subjectivities -- my"self" and the Other transacting a negotiation. Aikido is not reactive -- the Other does not prompt my"self" to react. Aikido is not preemptive -- my"self" does not prompt the Other to react.

Aikido is better analogized to a field property. A gravity field is neither reactive nor preemptive; it simply exists because objects with mass are in proximity to one another. All mass contributes to the field in the same proportion. All objects respond to the field in the same proportion, and without any intent or exertion on their part.

Energy is proportional and equivalent to mass, and thus an attack represents added energy (acceleration) in the system. If we allow the field lines to operate therefore, the lower energy (mass) object is (relatively) drawn toward the higher energy (mass) object, and vice versa in lower proportion. The result is a mutual spiral inward about a common center of gravity, if either had any original momentum. Both are continually changing their momentum in relation to the center. And the more energetic object may thus accelerate past escape velocity without ever colliding with the object closer to the center. That is aikido.

Cordailly,
Erick Mead
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Old 04-18-2006, 11:50 AM   #43
Ron Tisdale
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Timing. O-Sensei said that Aikido is not about timing. Aikido works early, and Aikido works late.
Source please. I agree that aikido works both late and early (at it's base this may be irimi and tenkan), but somehow that still seems to me to be all about timing.

Best,
Ron

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Old 04-18-2006, 12:45 PM   #44
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Erick Wrote:

Quote:
What is bad for my child does not depend on his or her subjective appreciation of it. My life is a tremendous good, but not the highest good. The lives of my children are more important.
Quote:
And -- again -- no it isn't. Killing for killing's sake is always wrong, at every time and in every place.
I am trying to understand your view. Hopefully I am not wrong.

If the lives of your kids are more important than your own, then they must be more important than a strangers. So I must assume that if someone threatened their lives, then you would not have an issue using deadly force to resolve the situation.

Assuming that your kids did not initially pose a deadly threat to the person, and he is really the one that intiates the harm...

How do you reconcile this with killing if it is wrong at every point and time? When is it justified to kill someone?

To me, it is not an easy answer, and a choice that every individual must make when presented that choice based on the situation, knowledge, and perception he/she has at the time. Ethics, values, and norms also play a role in that process.

While I certainly wouldn't subscribe to the aztec sacrifice in this day and age, it was a norm and an acceptable practice to them. I would bet they did it out of compassion for the greater good of their society and from their perspective it was not a random act of evil or killing.

Barbaric by our definitions agreed. The Christian Conquistadors saw it that way as it was totally wrong by their system of beliefs!

To me it is not about judging the act right or wrong, but about understanding it first. Dirk does a good job of explaining things I think!

Well we are kinda getting off track I think!

My point is simply that it is difficult to make decisions to take actions in conflict many times. We cannot make skillful decisions without considering the otherside or other persons perspective. We must always try and understand when possible before we take action. Therefore, things like aikido, teach us MORE about this than the pitance of techniques we learn.

Sometimes we do not have time to consider much, especially in a violent attack. We then must rely on our past experiences and approach the situation with a clear mind and act in the most appropriate matter that we can. When we do so, we should act as compassionately as possible, removing as much emotion and anger as we can so as to deal with the situation with clarity.

To me this is what it is all about!
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Old 04-18-2006, 12:52 PM   #45
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

@Erick,
as long as someone is referring to himself (me - my family - my house - my village - my tribe - my nation - my race), it still is ego-centered.

The rest (both responses) is great - I do not really agree, but I have to think about it.

Cordially

Dirk
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Old 04-18-2006, 01:23 PM   #46
Erick Mead
 
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
If the lives of your kids are more important than your own, then they must be more important than a strangers. So I must assume that if someone threatened their lives, then you would not have an issue using deadly force to resolve the situation.
How do you reconcile this with killing if it is wrong at every point and time? When is it justified to kill someone?
"Killing is always wrong" is not what I said. The distinction is key.
Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
Killing for killing's sake is always wrong, at every time and in every place.
In classical ethics this is called the doctrine of double effect. If my proximate purpose to effect is good -- saving of a life immediately threatened -- then the consequence of my action in stopping that threat, even if death of the threatening person may be nearly certain in its consequenceial occurrence from the saving of a life I act to effect, while unfortunate, is not evil. Conversely, if my remote goal is good -- saving thousands from starvation, and my proximate purpose evil -- killing a border guard who stands in the path of my bringing them aid; the laudable remote goal does not absolve the proximate act of killing. The end does not justify the means.
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
While I certainly wouldn't subscribe to the aztec sacrifice in this day and age, it was a norm and an acceptable practice to them. I would bet they did it out of compassion for the greater good of their society and from their perspective it was not a random act of evil or killing. ... Barbaric by our definitions agreed. The Christian Conquistadors saw it that way as it was totally wrong by their system of beliefs!
Wrong by rational measure, not belief. In fact, they did it in the fervent view that it was necessary to save the whole world from destruction. That is perhaps the best example of the violation of the doctrine of double effect. For this reason, the Q'uran, which itself has a great deal of the common tradition of classical ethics embodied within it, says that he who kills one man, is as if he has killed the whole world. The point is to ensure that the good effected and the evil suffered are both rightly ordered in intent, consequence and in appropriate moral (not numerical) scale with one another. Thus, killing to save mere property is out of scale, whereas killing in the course of saving life is not. Let's not jump off into just war theory just yet, though.
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
To me it is not about judging the act right or wrong, but about understanding it first. ... My point is simply that it is difficult to make decisions to take actions in conflict many times.
We cannot make skillful decisions without considering the otherside or other persons perspective. We must always try and understand when possible before we take action. ... Sometimes we do not have time to consider much, especially in a violent attack. ...
We are completely on track here -- "martial" arts respond in the realm of action, not rational justification or before-the-fact interest-weighing. "Self" defense is not the point, although defense of self is a part of this moral universe, although not a commanding part.

Aikido is an art of ethical action -- moral and martial strategy without the burden of calculated planning. Right action is good aikido, and good aikido, right action. I do not divine my necessary action from modelling an adversary's motives, internal struggles, or probable poor upbringing. His action is all I need to know of him, to know him. This school of ethical philosophy is called phenomenology, lately espoused by none other than Pope John Paul the Great.

To bring up another recent portrayal of modern myth as example,
" It is not who you are inside that matters. It's what you do."
Add Batman to Darth Vader.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 04-18-2006, 01:41 PM   #47
Erick Mead
 
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Dirk Hanss wrote:
@Erick,
as long as someone is referring to himself (me - my family - my house - my village - my tribe - my nation - my race), it still is ego-centered.
Understood. The example could have been stated more broadly, but I speak from moral cases (and responsibilities) closest to me -- to ensure at the very least that I do not get frighteningly abstract.

Alas, I do not pretend to lack an ego (huge -- monstrous really, obscenely so in the hinder parts) Nor could anyone so claim who is not yet a saint, sage or bodhisattva. The point is that ego for most folks is far more capable of extension than it is of extinction. "An infinite sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere." I am as privileged to be the center as anyone else is, but not more so.

The big leap is extending ego past, Me Myself and I; the next hardest is not to rigidify in "Me v. Other" at some other scale (clan, tribe etc.). The remaining hurdles become progressively smaller to jump if one remains committed to the paradigm.
I am too late for Easter, but I carry on nonetheless --

"Hoppitty, hop-hop, hoppity hop-hop ..."

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 04-18-2006, 04:06 PM   #48
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Erick wrote:

Quote:
I do not divine my necessary action from modelling an adversary's motives, internal struggles, or probable poor upbringing. His action is all I need to know of him, to know him.
I would agree in the sense of immediate action necessary to defend yourself from imminent harm.

However, for any other situation, on the "big picture scale" this becomes a "cop out" absolving yourself of responsibility and viewing yourself as a separate, disinterested, or non-participating party, IMHO is a big part of why we have conflict...seeing ourselves as detached.

What you describe is pure self defense. It does not require compassion, thought, or rational decision. It does not require us to respond in a compassionate manner that controls the escalation of force.

IHMO, Aikido philosophy requires us to respond compassionately as possible, to skillfully attempt to resolve situations if possible. It may require violent action that results in a quick death, but we then have a "healing process" that must take place. We don't boast about our result, but attempt to understand and to be compassionate after the fact.

If the concern is simply physical self defense...then why be concerned with the concepts of aikido? I'd simply carry the most lethal force necessary to resolve a situation and then use it without hesitation on a preceived threat!

I think we put too much into the expectations MA, DO arts in particular on the "self defense" end of things. Very neat, tidy, and justifiable actions for self perservation to prevent injury or harm. When really it is all about the "big picture", seeing how we are connected, seeing our relationship to others and the world and truly understanding the "cause and effect" of things.
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Old 04-18-2006, 11:27 PM   #49
Erick Mead
 
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Quote:
Erick Mead wrote:
I do not divine my necessary action from modelling an adversary's motives, internal struggles, or probable poor upbringing. His action is all I need to know of him, to know him.
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
...[this is] a big part of why we have conflict...seeing ourselves as detached.
What you describe is pure self defense. It does not require compassion, thought, or rational decision. It does not require us to respond in a compassionate manner that controls the escalation of force.
I simply do not understand the first statement. What you describe is empathy -- "feeling within," "an imaginative projection of subjective state" as opposed to sympathy --"feeling with, at the same time,""affinity wherein what affects one similarly affects the other," "unity or harmony of action or effect."

There lies the difference between us. I describe action flowing from action. You infer detachment because I do not ascribe my internal mode. Precisely so, because I am not detached, but respond without reference to my internal state -- as does one piano string when a nearby piano string is struck - in sympathetic vibration. I act from the most fundamental connection my adversary provides me -- his fully expressed intent -- his action, not from my own solipsistic supposition of his motives and my internal reflection upon that which I suppose but can never truly know. I may interpret his aciton in error, but this is a far less likely source of error than attempting to interpret his internal state.

Where is any action lacking in compassion? You infer cruelty ["self-defense"] because I do not ascribe a consciousness of compassion in so acting. It is not compassionate to give a collapsing diabetic a candy bar regardless how I may feel really good about my kind intention. My adversary is similarly disordered. Compassion will correct or at the very least help to relieve the condition causing the disorder. If the wrong piano string is struck causing dissonance, it must be diminished in tone to restore the harmonic chord.
Quote:
Kevin Leavitt wrote:
IHMO, Aikido philosophy requires us to respond compassionately ...We don't boast about our result, but attempt to understand and to be compassionate after the fact.
...
really it is all about the "big picture", seeing how we are connected, seeing our relationship to others and the world and truly understanding the "cause and effect" of things.
What does it mean to "be compassionate?" I say it requires sympathetic action, not empathetic thought or portrayal of compssionate persona ("persona" = mask). As I see it, O-Sensei's techniques were not intended to portray compassion, but to be compassionate by performing them.
Aikido is an art in action, not portrayal or contemplation, unless action also be contemplative, which possibility I will admit.

Cordially,
Erick Mead
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Old 04-19-2006, 12:56 AM   #50
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Re: "Self-defense" or Something Else?

Kevin Wrote:
Quote:
However, for any other situation, on the "big picture scale" this becomes a "cop out" absolving yourself of responsibility and viewing yourself as a separate, disinterested, or non-participating party, IMHO is a big part of why we have conflict...seeing ourselves as detached.
I don't think he was describing any other situation.

Quote:
Sometimes it is not possible to resolve conflict in a harmonous way at the moment it occurs. We must take actions to prevent what we percieve to be a greater harm and in doing so inflict harm ourselves. This is not creating harmony in my view, but stopping harm with harm.
This sounds a lot like you are considering harm as something bad, but earlier you say:
Quote:
is there really any such thing as "good" and "evil". they are certainly concepts...but what is good for one person, might not be good for the other and vice versus. I think it depends on your perspective.
It might be good to pick up a more broad idea of harmony. Is your view of harmony an afternoon tea? Erick's last post mentioning sympathetic vibration is a nice point.

When the universe mixes up just right and an attack is coming your way, you will either bring harmony to the situation, or the situation will bring harmony to you. If you are not ready and capable to dictate said harmony, then you have no position from which to dictate compassion. Or in the fine fashion stated by Erick,
Quote:
O-Sensei's techniques were not intended to portray compassion, but to be compassionate by performing them.
Here's a funny side note from tonight's practice. I was working on katatetori ikkyo with someone who is still essentially a beginner, they broke their pinky toe on the back of my heel as they stepped wildly to keep their balance, instead of pivoting. He's a tad taller than I, keen technical awareness, very athletic, definitely stronger than myself, but his only problem is rigid stiffness, and that stiffness broke his toe. I am still trying to tell myself that it isn't my fault.

It's not too bad because it's at most a hair-line, or possibly even a sprained tendon. But I still feel bad because it happened on my heel. I feel the need to say I should have been able to control his motion better, but I also feel the need to say that this wouldn't have happened to me, primarily due to greater exposure to ukemi.

mike.
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(editing thesis, hurrah!)
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